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Girton’s Festival of Poetry: National Jane Martin Poetry Prize winners are announced for 2020

Girton College is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Jane Martin Poetry Prize, a national poetry competition for young poets, established in 2010 in memory of Girton alumna, Jane Elizabeth Martin. The College has been a longstanding supporter of poetry and this announcement marks the 10th Anniversary of the prize.

As part of Girton’s Festival of Poetry fortnight (11-22 May 2020) you can watch the winners give a special reading of their winning poems below:

First prize: Annie Forbes for ‘Crossing’ and ‘Inisbofin’ 

Congratulations to Anna Forbes from Edinburgh. She studied at King’s College London, where she received a degree in Comparative Literature. She is currently working towards an MLitt at the University of St Andrews.

Alex Houen, one of the Judges for the prize comments:

“Anna’s entry is beautifully focused on the visual, and I thought the mini-sequence poem ‘Crossing’ is really fascinating for the way that it ‘develops’ rather like a photograph (or series of photos) so that in the fields ‘resolving as we pass’ we can hear resolution to be about clarity of image and one’s relation to things. The poem pointedly does not ‘resolve’ as a narrative does, for its vision is focused on how images can be striking precisely because they keep things in tension — as with ‘softened light’ shivering around the halo-ish ‘brightness’ of a sleeping sister. There is a gentle poetic confidence about ‘Crossing’, and there is in ‘Inisbofin’, too, in the way that it develops a ‘strange relief’ (visual and emotional) with its chiaroscuro imagery. It’s not easy to be clear about shadowy things, especially when what’s shadowy extends to mood, but such clarity is what these two poems achieve, and they do it with a very impressive feel for line-breaks, prosody, and image.” 

Second Prize: Aayushi Jain for ‘Whale Song’ and ‘Night Swim’ 

Congratulations to Aayushi Jain, a 24-year-old writer and musician from Birmingham. She is currently studying English Literature at the University of Exeter, and after spending a year abroad in Ottawa her short story ‘Lighthouse’ was recently published in the Write Across Canada Anthology.

Judging the prize with Alex Houen was Holly Corfield-Carr, who comments:

“What a euphoric, euphonic thing it is to read ‘Whale Song’. It is awash with sound, from the gong of the tongue to that ‘blood bassoon’ and I had an appropriately cetaceous species of a time singing along. When ‘Whale Song’ is paired with the delicate smallness of ‘Night Swim’, the scale shifts, both in size and song and the whale-mother, who in ‘Whale Song’ swallows the poet whole, in ‘Night Swim’ shrinks to the size of plankton, suspended in the belly of a jellyfish.”

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Jane Martin Poetry Prize Girton will be publishing a special anthology, including a selection of poems from eminent Girtonian poets, both past and present, as well as the winning poems from the Jane Martin Poetry Prize winners from the past decade. Watch this space!  However, for a sneak preview here are some of our current students reading a selection for our ‘Festival of Poetry’, watch on YouTube here.

From 18–22 May, members of the current Girton Poetry Society will be reading their new poems on GirtonLockdown, one on each day. Do listen to them, or catch them later on our YouTube channel.